Experts say honey should be your first defence against a cough

It’s getting to that time of year again: the weather has shifted and it won’t be long before it starts taking a toll on our health.

Sunbathing and glasses of Pimm’s will soon be swapped for sore throats, runny noses and constant shivering – and although colds themselves are typically unavoidable, there’s one ingredient that experts say might be able to stop the arrival of an impending cough in its tracks.

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According to health officials, honey should be used to treat bad coughs and colds instead of antibiotics – so much so that GPs and other medical professionals have been advised not to issue the drugs to their patients and encourage them to use home remedies like honey in its place.

As stated by Public Health England (PHE) and the National Institute of Health and Care Excellence (Nice), coughs are either caused by a cold or flu virus, or bronchitis, and will usually last for around three weeks. Therefore, antibiotics can make little difference to the symptom and instead cause side effects, as well as leading to the development of antibiotic resistance.’

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It’s for this reason that self-care solutions such as mixing honey and lemon are advised; they help to soothe your throat and ease coughs without the use of drugs. However, cough medicines containing pelargonium, guaifenesin or dextromethorphan have also been proven to have some benefit for cough symptoms.

It’s worth noting that honey is only suggested for patients with acute cough symptoms and as a first step before contacting your doctor. For patients with a more serious conditions, antibiotics may be necessary – always consult a professional if you’re unsure.

‘If someone has a runny nose, sore throat and cough, we would expect the cough to settle over two to three weeks and antibiotics are not needed,’ Dr Tessa Lewis, GP and chairwoman of the antimicrobial prescribing guidelines group, told Metro. ‘People can check their symptoms on NHS Choices or NHS Direct Wales or ask their pharmacist for advice. If the cough is getting worse rather than better, or the person feels very unwell or breathless, then they would need to contact their GP.